In three states, no girls took Advanced Placement computer science exams this year. A housing measure to help San Francisco teachers passes, while another to boost school funding in Mississippi fails. And Colorado's second-largest school district throws out all its school board members.
The tide may be turning against the number of standardized tests students take each year, but here’s an unstandardized, low-stakes quiz anyway:
Q: How much does it cost to hire someone else to take your online class for you, with the guarantee of a B or better?
A: $1,225.15, according to the author of a disturbing article in The Atlantic about the prevalence of services that offer to help you cheat, including one called “No Need to Study.” “That extra 15 cents,” Derek Newton wrote, “made it seem official.”
Q: How many states had no girls take the Advanced Placement exam in computer science last school year?
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A: Three, according to a report in Education Week. Washington wasn’t one of them – our rate was in the top 10, at 28 percent.
Q: How many had no African-American students?
Q: A student whips out a cell phone in your class, which is prohibited under school rules: What do you do?
A: The L.A. Times put that question to teachers after a security officer in South Carolina threw a student across a classroom in an incident that involved a cell phone. The answers ranged from the very strict – docking a first offender half of a grade – to the very creative. One teacher places confiscated phones in a brown, paper bag, staples it shut, then leaves it on the student’s desk. That way, students can’t use their phones, but don’t have to worry about them getting lost or stolen.
NEWLY ELECTED: School boards all over the area have new members after this week’s election, including Seattle, where four newcomers will join the city’s seven-member board.
NEWLY UNELECTED: Every member of the school board in Jefferson County, Colo., that state’s second largest school district. Three of the five were recalled by voters upset over their decisions to institute merit pay for teachers, support charter schools, and a proposal to change the curriculum in advanced U.S. history classes to make it more “patriotic.”
Ballotpedia.org put those races at the top of its “Elections to Watch” list for 2015 – and the Seattle School Board races were 10th. (Seattle’s City Council races were 7th.)
NEWLY APPROVED: A measure aimed at boosting the lives of King County’s youngest, as well as a housing measure in San Francisco that, among other things, will help teachers live in that ever-more-expensive city.
NEWLY REJECTED: A proposal in Mississippi that would have altered the state’s constitution to boost spending on public schools. The idea was to add language, similar to what’s in Washington’s constitution, guaranteeing an “adequate and efficient system of public schools,” with judicial oversight of legislative spending. The initiative would have required a $200 million increase in public education spending in 2016.
OTHER LOCAL EDUCATION HIGHLIGHTS:
- Just as the Seattle School Board was scheduled to vote on whether to adjust school start times to match teenagers’ biological clocks, the matter was pulled from the agenda. The vote is now on tap for Nov. 18. Was support eroding? Had there been a big public outcry? Neither seems to be the case. The problem, Superintendent Larry Nyland said at the meeting, was the district hadn’t filed its environmental impact statement in time for the required seven-day review.
- The Highline School District announced a big jump in its graduation rate – which topped 70 percent for the first time in five years. That’s lower than the state average, which was 77 percent in 2015, but much better than the low-to-mid 60s, where Highline stood a few years back. More districts will be reporting their rates soon, too.
- The Lake Washington School District – which covers the cities of Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish – is now the fourth largest district in the state, leapfrogging Kent and Evergreen this year. Only Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma are larger. Lake Washington gained 1,114 students, although about 300 of them represent an adjustment in how students at a regional skills center are assigned to a district.
- The Seattle School Board parted ways with its foundation, the Alliance for Education, which had been raising funds for the district and serving as a “critical friend” for 20 years.
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